Well, I thought that today would be a great day to set my mind and work to the things of Advent and Christmas - Advent Evening Prayer homily for Wednesday and succeeding Wednesdays, etc. However, the Lord has a way of spoiling our useless plans in order to work His own, infinitely more useful plans!
After I finished my teaching duties at school, I came to my church study to be greeted by word that one of my shut-ins, Jane, had passed away and a funeral would be forthcoming...this week. Fair enough. The Lord has a way of giving us pastors more to do during these already busy weeks before Christmas. (Did I say that His plans are infinitely more useful?)
Then I received word that a friend of our family was ill. Bonnie, my former deaconess at my former congregation in Boonville, MO, informed us that her dad was in the hospital. A short while later another email came: Bonnie's dad had gone on to glory; more details would be forthcoming.
Now, back to the funeral I'm working on this week. I met with Jane's family to discuss funeral arrangements. In the course of my preparations, I had discovered that Jane had been baptized at a St. Nicholas church (I presume Roman Catholic) here in St. Louis. Wow! And she'll be buried on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. Can the Lord work things out for His glory, or what? I can confidently predict some kind of connection between the gifts of St. Nicholas and the Lord's gifts that He gave to Jane through her life.
Then the family and I discussed having a funeral this close to Christmas. And Jane's daughter-in-law said, "We just have to have a Christmas hymn." My mind started processing (you know, one of those older processors, I'm sure! ;-), and I thought of a couple of references to our Lord's defeat of death in Christmas hymns. "Good idea," I replied.
Yes, the Lord knows how to work His infinitely more useful plans by getting us to ponder Christmas and Easter combined! As I rummaged through the hymnal for specific verses to ponder these next few days, the perfect one jumped out at me. It comes from that great hymn "Hark! The Herald Angels' Sing" (LSB 380). Here's the combination of Christmas and Easter in one small package, gift wrapped so beautifully:
"Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth." (LSB, 380:3).
Thank You, Lord, for taking Jane and Harry home this close to Christmas so that we can celebrate Christmas and Easter combined! To the families of Jane and Harry, what a great comfort it is that your loved ones now get to bask in the great healing of the Prince of Peace, the Sun (Son) of Righteousness!